Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Coral Sea Heritage Park - Great news for recreational fisherman!

Before I start let me say I am no ‘fish hugger’! I am a conservationist for sure but I have been passionate about recreational fishing since I was a lad! I remember saving like mad for my first ABU fishing reel when they were still hand made in Sweden and Shimano was some mob that made parts for poncy 10 speed racing bikes! Oops I owned a 10 speed racer but it was justified as I had to get to my fishing spots somehow!

The two activities, fishing and conservation are far from mutually exclusive and I know many amateur fishers who I would rate as having great attitudes towards environmental issues.

I recently noticed an ad in the Innisfail Advocate regarding the proposed Coral Sea Heritage Park. I thought it was great as in a short concise manner it gave recreational fishers some facts.

Of course there are some people out there running around yelling this is terrible, this is bad, you won’t be able to take your kids fishing etc etc.

I think these alarmists have got it wrong…way wrong. It would appear that CAFNEC think so too! The anti park lobby have been well and truly shot out of the water recently by articles such as 'Coral Sea Heritage Park Myths Busted!' (PDF) and by the Australian Marine Conservation Society.

I have never fished in the Coral Sea…why not you ask? Well it’s a long way away, about 93 kilometres from Innisfail and I believe 80km from Cairns. Most charter boats don’t even go there as it is so far out and so expensive to get there when there are so many closer fishing spots in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

I will let you into a secret but don’t tell anyone ok? As a recreational fisherman I want to catch fish and one of the main reasons I am keen on a Coral Sea Heritage Park can be summed up in two words …Spillover Effect, shhh keep it quiet I don’t want everyone thinking I’m greedy bastard!

What is spillover effect?

Well when an area becomes a ‘No Take’ Marine Park its fish numbers naturally increase as do the fish sizes and they will eventually reach a peak, often within a matter of a few short years. Two great things happen for recreational fishers (and commercial fishers). Bigger more plentiful fish produce more eggs and these eggs and the juveniles that come from them spread out into surrounding fishing areas…like the Great Barrier Reef (where I do fish!).

Not only that but large pelagic fish like my handsome Spanish mackerel in the photo and other reef fish spill over from these more densely populated protected areas into places like the Great Barrier Reef where they can be caught! As a recreational fisher I see the Coral Sea Heritage Park as a ‘seed bank’ with the ability to improve fish stocks on the Great Barrier Reef, especially highly mobile pelagic species.

Of course anyone with half a brain could understand this (which explains why some politicians are having trouble getting their heads around it). You don’t have to take my word regarding spillover effect from Marine Sanctuaries, check out these links
As a recreational fisher who supports the Coral Sea Heritage Park I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. At the end of the day supporting the Coral Sea Heritage Park is a no brainer for recreational fishers who fish in the waters of the Great Barrier Reef!

Cheers (and tight lines) Russ

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